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Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body [Paperback]

Iain Borden
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 May 2001
Skateboarders are an increasingly common feature of the urban environment - recent estimates total 40 million world-wide. We are all aware of their often extraordinary talent and manoeuvres on the city streets. This book is the first detailed study of the urban phenomenon of skateboarding. It looks at skateboarding history from the surf-beaches of California in the 1950s, through the purpose-built skateparks of the 1970s, to the street-skating of the present day and shows how skateboarders experience and understand the city through their sport. Dismissive of authority and convention, skateboarders suggest that the city is not just a place for working and shopping but a true pleasure-ground, a place where the human body, emotions and energy can be expressed to the full. The huge skateboarding subculture that revolves around graphically-designed clothes and boards, music, slang and moves provides a rich resource for exploring issues of gender, race, class, sexuality and the family. As the author demonstrates, street-style skateboarding, especially characteristic of recent decades, conducts a performative critique of architecture, the city and capitalism. Anyone interested in the history and sociology of sport, urban geography or architecture will find this book riveting.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berg Publishers (3 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859734936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859734933
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 345,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Those few of us in the academy engaged in writing about the sociospatial relations of skating delight in the polished arguments that Borden presents over nine logically structured, pertinent and stylishly illustrated chapters.' Cultural Geographies Borden describes the emergence of not so much a sport as a way of life ... Its relation to architecture is kept beautifully clear ... a good read.' Building Design 'Skateboarders help us to think about buildings and their use. Borden argues that they draw our attention to the city as the site of perpetual change.' The Independent 'The first academic study of skateboarding.' Dazed and Confused 'There's absolutely no way I can do [the] work justice here the book is incredibly thought-provoking, especially from the perspective of actually being a skateboarder. I highly recommend it.' Sidewalk 'A fine book that I recommend to any skateboarder who can read at a college level.' Big Brother 'Borden owes as much to 30 year The book is excellently researched and draws upon an exhaustive aumount of secondary data on skateboarding. A highly original and extremely well written text that discusses the historical and cultural meaning of skateboarding through an engagin reading of the work of Lefebvre and others. University of Sussex

About the Author

Iain Borden Director of Architectural History and Theory and Reader in Architecture and Urban Culture at the Bartlett,University College London

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Jay Oh
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author may be one of very few people to be interested in both skateboarding and architectural theory, but that shouldn't deter readers who aren't familiar with both. Borden's book is clearly written and will guide you through with little confusion - or, better yet, go and watch the skaters at the Undercroft on the South Bank, then read this, then you'll really understand the intersection of theory and movement in architecture that Borden seeks to express.

For readers coming from the urban studies direction, 'Skateboarding, Space and the City' has particular appeal for the way it explains the ideas of Henri Lefebvre. No-one actually likes reading Lefebvre, for his writing is tangled and unclear - but Borden makes it relevant and painless. Theoretically he discusses ideas about the production and representation of space, of performance and use as central to urban space rather than fixed structures 'authored' by one designer. Skateboarding, this marginalised, counter-culture sport, makes a perfect partner for this cutting-edge reinterpretation - and the liveliness of this book is not just in its topic, but also the many pictures and straight-talking quotes taken from actual skaters about how they think about skateboarding. Even for a non-skater, its treatment of the development of skateboarding is a fascinating slice of cultural history, particularly when watched in tandem with skateboarding films such as Dogtown and Z-Boys [2001]

Hugely interesting, theoretically bang on, innovative, and absolutely recommended.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic. 28 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is essential armoury in any skater's weapons cupboard when moving through a street skate session. It will provide many an argument and counter argument to those who can understand it, and in future years will hopefully be considered a classic, even if no-one can make head nor tail of it. The best bit for me was the picture of the author at Romford. Thanks Iain, security guards will never be the same again.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Architecture 15 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thought it will be more about architecture, but this book moustly about skateboarding elements and it history. It could be interesting for skateboarders to know sport history.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great book 26 Jun 2010
By max_64
Format:Paperback
great book, a complete story of skateboarding from the beginnig.
But the book miss a point: today street skating is 50% made of freestyle-flatland skateboarding of the '90s (see Rodney Mullen)
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Production of Space 8 Mar 2006
By N. A. Soper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is an informative look into Ian Bordens extensive research into the history and culture of skateboarding, which illustrates alternative issues of architecture and production of space.

The beginning chapters are heavy reading and heavily referenced, but worth the time and effort. The later chapters go into an in depth and detailed look at skateboarding development and cultural issues.

He challenges readers to change their perception of architecture and spaces, and to look at how our own actions affect the space we occupy, by looking at skateboarding and its culture. He references Lefebvre who said, "Surely it is the supreme illusion to defer to architects, urbanists or planners as being experts or ultimate authorities in matters relation to space." He then goes on to talk about how the interaction addresses the physical architecture, yet responds with a dynamic presence not another physical object. Skateboarding produces space, but also time and the self. This book addresses how, architecture as a set of flows, as a set of experience and reproductions, can be embedded in the practices of architectural history - for as architecture is not itself a space, but only a way of looking at space. The rest of the book is a thoroughly researched look at skateboarding.

Its worthwhile noting that his is not a skateboarding magazine and is written in the academic tongue so is not easy to read. But worthwhile reading if you are interested in this field.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Appropriate This! Urban Space 21 Mar 2005
By s.5 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Unmistakably and in so many ways, Iain Borden thinks that skateboarding is RAD! This sentiment comes through in nearly every one of his 267 pages on the subject, a sort of tribute to the urban arts of skateboarding. This is scholarship as panegyric ... but don't get me wrong, I'm largely with Borden in his readings and estimation of the radical nature and content and potential of skateboarding: it's RAD!

In this monograph, Borden's archive is largely skateboarding magazines. He talks some about zines and almost none about films, and the way he reads mags is simply (and a bit disappointingly) to quote from the alphabetic portions of those texts. This is not to say that this book is not replete with images, because it is -- photos, magazine pages, more photos, including even one of Borden in a pool at a skate park! love that moment in the text -- it's just that Borden is not a discourse analyst, so he doesn't break down and close read in the ways I might have wanted him too. But dude, he sure is an architectural theorist, and so what this book is is Borden dumping piles and piles of Lefebvre onto skateboarding in order to redefine architecture and make sophisticated sense of what might otherwise be considered a "mere" hobby.

That's right: Borden more or less erects a massive half pipe of Lefebvre's work on space and the city, rhythmanalysis, bodies, and the modern city, and then skates skateboarding and the spaces/landscapes that skateboarding takes place and shape in and around in RIGHT THROUGH that theoretical halfpipe. It makes for a yummy ride, if a bit of a repetetive one -- back and forth we go for all of those 267 pages largely riding on the simulacral wave that is the half pipe made out of Lefebvre. But since I dig Lefebvre, I was into the book.

Okay, but this is what Borden SAYS in this book, and what he claims, and what he ardently works to prove. He's mainly trying to say (aside from the statement that "Skateboarding is RAD!" which comes through on every page of this book, even though it is never expressly said) is that

*** get this *** Architecture is not buildings, and objects in our cities and lives are not texts, but that architecture is a sort of result of interactions of bodies in space. So the skater in the halfpipe makes something in excess of the pipe when he (and it usually is a he, Borden concedes; hot skater dudes populate this text while skate-grrls are few) goes for an arial, or does something unexpected with his body-board continuum. Skateboarding is just one way, and a very specific one, that space in the city is made and remade and created out of interactions of the skating kind.

Okay, so that seems to be his main idea, as I repeat it with flaws of all kinds, no doubt. He begins with chapters on wheels and boards, then moves to the skateparks (less interesting) and the urban appropriation of space/architecture by rampaging skater dudes (more interesting). This is where skating is radical, unlawful, wild ... RAD! Borden does a few other funny things: like saying skating is the parole to the lange of the boring everyday, or something like that. He's all theory-crazed, looking for any way he possibly can to see skateboarding as RAD! And he does. And it works.

I guess the main limitation of this book for me, and there were few, is the lack of critique. Borden doesn't see skateboarding as being nearly as commodified and caught up on "what's cool" and even a sort of coopted critique and radicalism as I see it to be. I think it's RAD, I guess, but in ways I wished he would have explored the commodification of it more, the rage and anger and ways that skating is perhaps misplaced and thus safe aggression and critique. I wanted it to be read not so much as RAD, but as a patterning with more facets, at least a few of them LAME. Without, it becomes some kind of cure-all activity, beyond human.
5 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a major disapointment 19 Aug 2004
By K. Larson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Yes, I said it, and I stand behind it. I really had my hopes up for this one. There is so much that can be done, the title alone suggests creativity utilizing the imagination. Does it deliver? No. The book, wich I expected to be full of photography and articles showing how skateboarders use the surrounding architecture for creativity, is really just a sad piece that goes on to tell the history of skateboarding, with very little interesting photography at all. The written content itself is hard to keep your interest, even for a long time skateboarder as myself. Dont get me wrong, I am all for the history of skateboarding, hell, I lived most of it. But that should be and has been put in books and editorials that were labled as such. This was, as I said, a disapointment. I can only hope that someone will see this and spark the idea to do it right, unless I do it first that is.
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